Mr. MARK SYKES
asked whether His Majesty's Government propose to take any steps to secure British merchant ships, from the dangers of mines of contact placed either on neutral or on belligerent coasts during the present war between Italy and Turkey; and, in view of Sir Ernest Satow's declaration that The Hague Convention, No. 8, of 1907, signed and ratified by His Majesty's Government without being submitted to Parliament, imposes no restrction whatever as to placing anchored mines, which may consequently be placed wherever a belligerent pleases, and that neutral Powers are authorised to lay such mines under the same rules as are imposed on belligerents, will His Majesty's Government take steps to diminish the new dangers thence arising?
§ Mr. ACLAND
I beg to refer the hon. Member to the provisions of the 7th Article of the Convention. So far as His Majesty's Government are aware, neither of the belligerents have yet ratified it. The Porte have notified His Majesty's Government that the ports of Salonica and Smyrna having been defended by contact mines, pilot boats have been stationed there to conduct neutral ships in and out of those harbours. No steps have, so far as we are aware, been taken by either belligerent which would warrant us in taking any action at present in the interests of British shipping, but we should not fail to do so should the necessity arise.